O'Boyle brings championship experience to young Gering team
     2013-08-01      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Danny O’Boyle was undoubtedly a major piece in the Gering Platte Valley Companies Senior American Legion’s drive to playing in three straight Class B State Tournaments that the 36ers capped last season with Post 36’s first state championship in 30 years.

Among his statistics among the 2012 Class B state champions’ team leaders, O’Boyle batted a solid .357 and pitched his way to a 4-4 record. A well-rounded athlete, O’Boyle played in the 2012 Nebraska Shrine Bowl football game and was second in the 400-meter dash in the Class B state track meet that spring.

But during a late-season interview with the four players who became known as Gering PVC’s long-time core group of senior leaders, O’Boyle made his point that when the 36ers’ season ended — whether it was in area or state play — he would turn his athletic attention to his football endeavors at Chadron State College.

Then in the spring, while O’Boyle was juggling his first year of college classes with spring football workouts, a call came from the Gering Baseball Association.

Would O’Boyle — whose brother Patrick, another former Legion standout, was an assistant on the Gering B&C Steel Juniors team in 2012 and would be the Gering B&C Steel Junior 36ers’ head coach this summer — be interested in returning to the PVC Seniors dugout this year as an assistant coach to Rick Kinnaman?

“At first I told them no,” O’Boyle said of returning to baseball. “I just wanted to have a summer to myself for once, and it would be the first time since I was 6 years old that I would actually have a summer to do nothing.

“But I just kind of kept contemplating it, and a few days later, Rick called me and asked me if I wanted to coach. And when Rick called me, that’s when I made up my mind to do it. Rick had coached me before and I knew it would be a fun time. It was just a way for me to stay in the game, and I realized that I didn’t want to give it up yet.“

Making the transition from player to coach — especially with three former teammates in Walker Britsch, Austin Ferguson and Bret Orozco still on the same team that bonded as state champions a summer ago — took a little time.

“The first month or so he was still in the player mode and he would show up at practice and play catch,” Kinnaman said. “ By the end, when he would show up, we would setting up drills, talk about how we wanted to run things, what we needed to address, and he started coaching.

“He found out that coaching is kind of a broad thing and can be complicated at times, and he found out a lot more about coaching than I think he ever suspected he would. He’s a very bright guy, he made some great suggestions and gave advice to the younger players. As a coach, his rating is an A-plus.”

O’Boyle also brought an intangible to the Gering dugout that not many coaches or players get to experience: being a state champion.
“The value of him coming off a championship season like that, he went deep into the season three straight years, so he had the experience and could explain that to them, and that was good,” Kinnaman said.

And for such a young team, O’Boyle’s experience may have not been reflected in Gering PVC’s final 10-27 record. That’s not to say the players didn’t grow and learn from their assistant coach.
“Coming into this year, we knew it was going to be a lot different,“ O’Boyle said. “And that’s when I told the four seniors — Austin Ferguson, Bret Orozco, Walker Britsch and Taylor Winkler — I told Taylor that I was glad he came over this year and gave it one more year because he really helped us out a lot.

“I told the other three that I was proud of them for sticking it out, because after last year they could have said to heck with it and hung it up and said, ‘We already got it, so why come back?’ They came back and they worked their butts off this summer. All of them did.

“We knew it was going to be a different group to work with, but I honestly don’t believe that we showed our true potential as a team this year. Our record definitely doesn’t show the amount of work these guys put in and the amount of character they have. They’re a great group of guys.

We showed our potential at times during the season, a few innings here and there, but never in a complete game. That’s frustrating from a coach’s perspective because we know what these guys were capable of and we really never showcased it.”

Gering PVC’s season ended at the Class B State Tournament for the fourth consecutive year, but this time it was as the host of the state event at a spruced-up and well-groomed Oregon Trail Park.
“I wish we could have done it last year because that would have been a great feeling,” O’Boyle said of playing the state tourney at home. “But I always liked to travel for state too, because it was always a fun experience going to different places where you’ve never been.

“But having it here was great, it’s a good environment here, they prepped the field really nice and got everything in top shape. And people here got to see a lot of good baseball and good teams and players from the other side of the state.”

Now that baseball season is over, O’Boyle can return his athletic attention to football, looking to be part of a Chadron State that finished the season 9-3, second in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and made the NCAA Division II playoffs.

O’Boyle had one start in 10 games, made nine receptions for 127 yards (14.1 average), two rushes for 3 yards and five total tackles. He looks to improve on his roles on offense and special teams.
“This year I should get to play a little bit more this year,” he said. “We should be pretty good. We return a lot of guys on offense, didn’t lose our quarterbacks (John McLain of Chadron and Patrick O’Boyle), our running backs, all of our receivers.

“We lost two key linemen, including Garrett Gilkey who went to the Browns. We graduated all our whole d-line last year and some pretty good linebackers. We should be able to put up a lot of points and we should be able to make a pretty good run at it this year.”

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